Thursday, January 8, 2009

There's no easy way out

Rupp Arena.

A place where Kentucky has won almost 90 percent (422-56) of its games since it was opened in 1976. A venue that routinely holds over 23,000 screaming fans dressed in a sea of blue. And the home of the NCAA’s all-time winningest program which boasts seven national titles.

Rupp will be the scene of Saturday’s conference opener as Vanderbilt will make its annual trip to Lexington to take on Kentucky.

“It’s intimidating, and a very, very difficult place to play,” Head Coach Kevin Stallings said. “We’ll probably have to play our best game in order to have a chance to win.”

With only four players on the active roster that have taken the floor at Rupp, Stallings plans to take his team on a walk-through Friday night to give them a feel for the building. He joked that he might even pull a scene out of the movie Hoosiers to show that Kentucky’s arena has the same court dimensions as Memorial Gym.

“I’ll have them go out and shoot a few balls to have them understand that our balls can go in their baskets, too.”

Vanderbilt was 0-for-28 at Rupp until scoring a 57-52 victory over the Wildcats on January 10, 2006. The Commodores followed that performance with a win in 2007, and barely dropped last year’s game in double-overtime.

Even with the Commodores’ recent success, sophomore forward Darshawn McClellan knows how tough of an arena it can be.

“Rupp is just crazy,” said McClellan, who scored a career-best 10 points in his only trip. “It’s loud. When I first got there, I was kind of nervous. But, you just have to handle it.”

Freshman guard/forward Lance Goulbourne has never experienced the environment first hand, but has already heard stories of the fabled place.

“People have told me that it’s probably the toughest place we’ll play this season,” said Goulbourne. “I just have to come out and be ready to play, get my teammates hyped, get me hyped and just be ready to go.”

And as Stallings sees it, the Commodores have two ways they can respond to Saturday’s challenge:

“They can choose to go up there and be intimidated or they can choose to embrace one of the most enjoyable and neat things about college basketball.”


  1. better watch out Vandy, the CATS are on their way back to being one of the best teams in the nation. These Cats are TOUGH....they are flying below radar right now, and no one seems to see them as being a ligite team..but BEWARE!!
    Rupp Arena is going to be a mad house...I just wish I could attend.

  2. Vandy will tame the kitty cats. Meow

  3. Rupp Arena is the only thing that the Cats have. They have no defense. The only player that can do anything is Patterson. Meeks has been non-exsistant all season. Please just watch and see, Vandy's bench is deep, Cats beware!

  4. meeks non-existant? your crazy. meeks is dropping close to 30 a game i think.

  5. You're way off base on Meeks. He's having a breakout year averaging close to 30 points a game. He's the best palyer they've got. If Vandy doesn't defend him, they'll get get clobbered.

  6. do your homework Vandy fans! Meeks is rated as the #2 shooting guard in America. Remember Shan Foster and Ogilvy last year? Get ready for that on steroids with Patterson and Meeks. ITS OVER FOR YOU VANDY.

  7. For some reason, all of the Kentucky fans think that UK is going to whip Vanderbilt by 25-30 points. Not with the way this Vandy squad plays defense! We'll try our best to hold UK to 11 by the end of the first half, like we did just last year.

    Another point: As our talent increases, UK's intimidation factor decreases.

    I don't know what we'll see out of Vanderbilt, but I know that this won't be a cake walk for the Cats. I can appreciate the passion of Kentucky fans but not the sustained collective self-delusion.

  8. "Rupp Arena is the only thing that the Cats have. They have no defense. The only player that can do anything is Patterson. Meeks has been non-exsistant all season."

    He was talking about defense, not offense. It's the word up there that starts with "d" and ends with "efense".